Legislators review state's energy programs

Legislators are reviewing Minnesota's energy programs. A Senate committee heard Thursday about how the Conservation Improvement Program is affecting businesses.

State law requires Minnesota utilities to try to sell one-and-a-half percent less electricity every year. They do that in part by helping homeowners and businesses become more energy-efficient.

Medtronic's energy manager, John Rohlf, said the company's new campus has electric heat, but it uses one-quarter less energy to heat than the old building.

"The floors are just one big floor, and between the people, the computers, the lights and everything else, they heat the building, and we just trim it with electricity, a little bit."

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Rohlf said he'd like a clear accounting of the costs of the Conservation Improvement Program for Minnesota homes and businesses. The CIP is an assessment on electric bills to help pay for conservation.

Committee chair Sen. Julie Rosen, Republican of Fairmount, says she's committed to keeping Minnesota's ambitious renewable and conservation targets.

"But you also have to be sensitive that the industry is aware of what will work, and if you keep hearing from employers, industry, the utilities, that there are problems, let's step back, take a look at it, always keep in mind the future, our environment, but the ratepayers also," she said.

Next week the Chamber of Commerce and representatives of heavy industry are expected to say the state's aggressive conservation and renewable programs are costing them money.